The City of London's artistic and cultural megaplex was mistreating its cleaners and delaying payment of the London Living Wage


THE crime scene

A giant complex of venues, including 3 theatres seating a combined 3,300 people. The Barbican is owned by the City of London (the Square Mile), which, amazingly, has its own Mayor, resists laws of the British Parliament, and Kings/Queens must be granted entry into it. It sits on many billions amassed from its High Priests of lawless finance.

The campaign

Barbican cleaners had reported regular managerial abuses, and an inexplicably long wait to be paid the London Living Wage — despite the CoL Corporation being a Living Wage employer. Technically, it was Mitie, the firm contracted to provide the cleaners, who refused to pay the LLW. Furthermore, cleaners were only entitled to the minimum legal rate of Sick Pay, which amounts to precisely ZERO for the first 3 consecutive days that someone misses work, and only a pittance after that. Albeiro, who had no real choice but to come to work with a bad knee and a crutch, was even thrown out by police on the orders of management!

uvw's message finally hits home for mitie

The bullies at Mitie, whose CEO received a 144% bonus on top of her £1m+ salary, illegally threatened all cleaners with sackings if they protested. But they turned out to be not-so-mighty. The Barbican is a superb place to protest, with many unstaffed entrances, daily shows, and grand internal spaces. And so, even after Servest had taken over the cleaning gig, UVW had to reignite the struggle yet again, this time for unjustified redundancies. This dispute ended up lasting several years, and due to a combination of UVW members finding better jobs, and fresh disputes popping up, many demands were left unmet.

Special thanks to SOAS Unison branch, Unite Hotel Workers branch and Natalie Bennett

Relive the Barbican campaign in multimedia!

This campaign was reported in the Union Solidarity International (27th April 2015), Green Party (30th Oct. 2015) and Islington Tribune (2nd June 2016)